Journalist and presidential aspirant of the Democratic Restoration Party (PRD), Miguel Mora, and former Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC) deputy, María Fernanda Flores, were the latest prisoners of conscience sentenced in the first week of the “single audience” policy. trials held at the Directorate of Legal Aid, known as “the new Chipote”.
Yader Parajón, Yaser Vado, Ana Margarita Vijil, Dora María Téllez and Lesther Alemán were the other five political prisoners sentenced this week for allegedly violating Law 1055 or the Law for the Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, to Sovereignty and Self-Determination for Peace, also known as “Sovereignty Law”.
Mora was found guilty of the crime of “undermining national integrity” by pro-Ortega judge Nadia Camila Tardencilla, who at the last moment of the hearing turned the criminal case into a “conspiracy”. The prosecution requested the maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for the journalist and a ban on holding public office.
María Fernanda Flores, former first lady and wife of former President Arnoldo Alemán (1997-2002), was found guilty of the crime of “conspiracy” and the prosecution requested eight years in prison plus a ban on holding office public. The sentences of the two political prisoners will be read on February 9.
Tweets and interviews as evidence against Mora
CONFIDENCIAL confirmed that among the evidence presented in the process against Mora included: an interview he gave to ‘The Grayzone’ in 2018 and four tweets. In three of these tweets, he shares journalistic articles from 100% Noticias, the media he owns, referring to the sanctions of the United States and the United Kingdom, and another where he thanks the Secretary General of the Organization of States Americans (OAS), Luis Almagro, for speaking out on the attack that his wife, Verónica Chávez, suffered in October 2020.
“I thank you on behalf of my wife, Mr. Almagro, for your words. Nicaragua is waiting for the declaration of illegitimacy of this criminal Sandinista dictatorship, do not disappoint us” indicates the tweet presented as evidence by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
According to Judge Tardencilla, this evidence “was sufficient” to prove the harm committed by Mora.
The prisoner of conscience’s lawyers were treated ‘aggressively’ by the judge during the hearing, who also asked them not to ‘overstep’ when trying to assert their client’s right to defense .
The defense was not allowed to approach their client either before or during the trial, CONFIDENCIAL confirmed.
Unlike other political prisoners, Mora managed to speak out “widely” during the trial, reiterating that he is “innocent” and that those who tried him were “destroying the course of justice”.
“I did not conspire against anyone, I am innocent,” he said.
Police banned talking and watching Mora
During Friday’s hearings, Ortega’s justice also allowed a family member into the courtroom. In Mora’s case, it was his wife Verónica Chávez who attended and had lunch with him, although during the trial the police officers of “the new Chipote” even forbade her to “turn around to look at him”.
Chávez rejected the lawsuit to which her husband Mora Barberena was subjected, calling it “null and void” and reiterating that “he did not commit any crime” in a 100% Noticias interview.
The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights described the trial against Mora as “a judicial farce full of vices and irregularities”, denouncing that the process “has persisted in the same format of repression, of incommunicado detention of the lawyers of defense and excessive presence of riot police”.
Mora Barberena, who also owns 100% Noticias, was arrested for the second time on June 20, 2021, three months after announcing his presidential candidacy for the PRD party. In May 2021, the Sandinista Front’s Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) ordered the cancellation of the party’s legal status in order to eliminate the National Coalition’s electoral box.
The communicator has been persecuted since April 2018, after having organized the programming of 100% Noticias to cover social demonstrations calling for the resignation of the leaders of the Sandinista Front for almost 24 hours a day.
Mora’s first arrest occurred when the police of the Ortega-Murillo regime raided the facilities of Canal 100% Noticias, on December 21, 2018. On this occasion, the press chief of this medium, Lucía Pineda Ubau, was also imprisoned. Both were released in June 2019, after six months of imprisonment, ill-treatment and torture.
Arnoldo Alemán accompanied by María Fernanda Flores
During the trial, María Fernanda Flores was also allowed to date former President Alemán. The former liberal deputy was arrested on the night of June 21, 2021, when the Ortega regime launched a hunt against the Nicaraguan opposition, in order to prepare for his presidential re-election in a process described as “electoral farce”.
Along with presidential hopefuls Cristiana Chamorro and Noel Vidaurre, and political commentator Jaime Arellano, Flores remained at home in police custody and in isolation, meaning she had to be escorted to “the new Chipote” where she was. the marathon trial is held.
Flores was removed from his post as a deputy on November 26, 2020 and lost his parliamentary immunity. Deputy María Haydée Osuna, president of the Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC), promoted the motion against Flores. She also backed the Sandinista Front to strip the Citizens for Liberty (CxL) party of its legal status three months before the general election.
“The fact that they took away my immunity and my constitutional rights through a vote that took place during an election, is one more demonstration of the type of government and dictatorship that we live in Nicaragua. “, denounced Flores on leaving the plenary. in 2020, where it has always tried to position itself as an opposition force to the regime; however, her image has always been in the shadow of the acts of corruption committed by her husband, former President Alemán.
Trials at “el nuevo Chipote” violate the law
The political trials reactivated on the orders of Daniel Ortega are scheduled for the whole month of February against political prisoners, in the same premises of “the new Chipote” where dozens have been imprisoned since the end of May 2021.
However, carrying out these processes in penitentiary establishments constitutes another of the illegalities in the fair trial, according to the specialist in criminal law, María Asunción Moreno, in an interview with Esta Noche.
Lawyers who closely follow cases against political prisoners agree with Moreno that judges cannot hold hearings outside the court complex and that the exceptions provided for in Article 121 of the Code of Criminal Procedure apply only to “procedures” which require the presence of the judge in his territorial jurisdiction.
However, they maintain that the exception does not apply in the case of these political trials, because neither the defense nor the prosecution have requested that they be held in “the new Chipote”, the lawyer said.
The right to defense is violated
Another of the illegalities is that defenders of political prisoners have not had access to their files – totally or partially – nor have they been able to converse freely with prisoners of conscience.
A lawyer who monitors political trials assured CONFIDENCIAL that the exercise of technical and material defense is violated in these trials, contrary to article 124 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CPP) which establishes that “the parties can obtain simple copies of legal proceedings without any formality at their expense”.
In addition, he added, article 34 of the Political Constitution of Nicaragua is violated, which, in point 4, requires that “their intervention and defense be guaranteed from the beginning of the trial or procedure and that they have the time and means necessary for their defence”.
Moreover, on January 31, the public prosecutor violated the presumption of innocence of political prisoners, by qualifying them as “criminals and delinquents” in a press release announcing the resumption of the trials.
“These same criminals and delinquents have reoffended, attempted to undermine the rights of the Nicaraguan people and society, undermining peace and security. They are the same ones who promoted and directed the terrorist acts of the failed coup attempt of 2018, which paralyzed the country and caused damage to the economy; they are the same ones who have caused so much pain and mourning in the Nicaraguan family because of the murders, tortures and kidnappings”, published the public ministry.
Likewise, Ortega already condemned political prisoners last November 8, in his most outspoken speech against political prisoners, in which he called them “the sons of bitches of imperialism”.
Demand the release of political prisoners
The Ortega regime keeps more than 170 Nicaraguans imprisoned, and more than thirty of them remain in “the new Chipote”, in solitary confinement, in disciplinary cells, suffering physical and psychological torture, as denounced by their relatives, who were unable to visit them five times during the more than six months of confinement.
Relatives of more than 30 political prisoners have demanded the annulment of the trials and the unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience on 30 January. They thus joined another press release in which another group of relatives called for the support of “heads of government, the living forces of the nation and the (Catholic) Church” to “lead” a “process of unification citizenship”, emphasizing that the release of prisoners of conscience would serve “as a kind of release shared by all Nicaraguans”.
Following the press releases, the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep), which had remained silent since September 2021, supported the request for the release of prisoners of conscience, and announced its willingness to support a national dialogue “without preconditions”. , in the midst of the worst crisis of legitimacy of the Ortega regime, which had previously announced meetings with different economic sectors, not to mention Cosep.
Of the 39 political prisoners captured between May 28 and October 21 (including four under house arrest), 29 are charged with alleged conspiracy to commit misdeeds; seven others are charged with money laundering and other crimes; two are under investigation for violation of the “law of sovereignty” and one for abusive management, embezzlement and abusive retention.
The regime used the package of repressive laws voted between October 2020 and February 2021 against the opposition, with Las 1055 or Law for the Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty and Self-determination for Peace, better known as the “Law of Sovereignty”. being the most used. He facilitated the imprisonment of seven presidential candidates, in addition to political leaders, civics, students, peasants, ex-diplomats, journalists, activists, professionals and human rights defenders.
He also used the special law on cybercrime, the so-called “gag law”, approved on October 27, 2020, which punishes anyone – according to the regime’s criteria – who spreads “fake news”.
Through this law, the prosecution sentenced Donald Margarito Alvarenga and Douglas Cerros Lanzas in January. Alvarenga was convicted for allegedly inciting “hate and violence”, through Facebook posts and WhatsApp messages and for “subversion, disobedience and rebellion at the level of conspiracy to undermine national integrity”. ; and Cerros for allegedly undermining national integrity and spreading false news.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff